Meet our Social Leaders


Full list of Fellows
Mary Duffy

Mary Duffy

Type of Fellowship: General
Year of Fellowship: 2011

Update October 2012

I have been working intensively on my Fellowship after deciding to leave my full time job at the end of July. During July and August I did internal work on my project and I completed all the fieldwork for my research with Social Investment Scotland (SIS).

In July, I completed the Social Entrepreneurship elective on the London Business School MBA programme (rated #1 in the world). The case study approach covered operations, governance, financing, scaling, evaluation, etc. The challenges of balancing a strong social mission with appropriate business systems were highlighted throughout and the issue of leadership (and when leadership fails) were key.  I worked with an Executive Director from Goldman Sachs and with the former Head of Strategy at The Virgin Group on the thorny issue of affordable childcare – an area I have also been also been discussing with officials at local and national government level in Scotland. I gained a Distinction in this course, finishing first in class.

From July until September, I continued my pro bono work with Standard Life Charitable Trust (SLCT). This has focused on advising the Trust on their operating model, including governance, and has required a multi stranded strategic analysis. I have had discussions with all SLCT Board members, including the Chairman and CEO of Standard Life plc.  I have also discussed issues with CEOs and others from a range of charitable trusts and foundations in the corporate and non corporate sphere across the UK. The resulting, extensive report maps core aspects of the UK corporate foundations and charitable giving landscape and summarises key issues for the SLCT Board going forward. It is confidential to SLCT.

My research with SIS on social investment challenges and opportunities has produced more than fifty interviews by the end of August, most face to face, with key people in the UK social investment sphere. A key theme that has emerged is the difference between Scotland and England in terms of how social investment has been positioned and the issues around its growth.  This will be the focus on my dissemination, for which I have just begun planning and for which I have several offers of partnership. Building on this work, I am involved in discussions involving a major UK bank, a venture philanthropy organisation and others to explore the feasibility of extending a Dutch social investment model to tackling employment issues in Scotland. I have been invited twice as a speaker on social impact investment and ‘caring capitalism’ at the Edinburgh University Business School Entrepreneurs’ Club.

In August/September I had some training on governance in the voluntary sector, took some executive coaching training, and attended a leadership event with the Disney Institute. The Disney event was challenging and provocative and left me with plenty of tools that could usefully be applied to the social impact sector.

Twitter: @marybduffy

Current principal role: National Head
Current principal organisation: BBC Children in Need
Other leadership role 1: Trustee
Other organisation 1: Social Enterprise Academy

Research: Shining Armour or Sheep’s Clothing? Views on social investment in the UK
Research topics: Finance; Social investment;
Secondment host: Standard Life plc

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